Nursing Care centre branches out

A 1.5 metre wire baobab tree stands tall in the grounds of Ron Smith Nursing Care Centre.

The Rand Aid Association-run nursing care centre has been undergoing considerable rejuvenation as it moves towards full Eden Alternative accreditation, which will see it acknowledged as part of a group of international organisations that are adopting a new, personalised approach to people care. Known as the ‘tree of life’, the baobab tree was incorporating into the logo of Eden Alternative South Africa when the international philosophy was introduced to South Africa in 2011.

The tree is also called the ‘upside down’ tree in the African culture because when bare of leaves, the spreading branches of the baobab look like roots sticking up into the air, as if it had been planted upside-down. If one aligns this thinking with the Eden Principles, it symbolises that person-directed care stems from and is driven by the needs of the residents as opposed to the usual hierarchy with the leaders at the top dictating downwards. (Principle 8 – Decision making is closer to the resident.)

According to, a baobab tree can create its own ecosystem, supporting the life of countless creatures, from the largest of mammals to the thousands of tiny creatures scurrying in and out of its crevices. Birds nest in its branches; baboons devour the fruit; bush babies and fruit bats drink the nectar and pollinate the flowers.

The Ron Smith Nursing Care Centre

The nurturing associated with this venerable tree is well aligned with Ron Smith’s Eden Alternative journey, demonstrating the 160-bed facility’s growth in recent years in providing a loving, supporting and non-institutional new home for its residents.

The wire baobab will bear the nursing care centre’s Vision and Mission statements to allow residents, their family members and staff members to give their input prior to the formal adopting of these core statements. Thereafter, it will be used as a ‘Wish’ and ‘Gratitude’ tree.

For further information, call 882 4120.